For John Kerry, when it comes to an American ally and a deadly enemy, it’s 1971 all over again

Kerry Neville AcademyPlus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. These timeless words apply with unusual accuracy to John Kerry and the role he’s chosen to assume in the current war between Israel and Hamas.

David Horovitz describes Kerry’s despicable conduct in his self-appointed role as peace negotiator between Israel, a recognized nation among nations, and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization:

When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

As another Times of Israel writer explained in great detail:

According to the text, “the Palestinian factions” and the State of Israel would make three commitments:

a) Establish a humanitarian cease-fire, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip, beginning in 48 hours, and lasting for a period of seven days

b) Build on the Cairo cease-fire understandings of November 2012 [that were reached, through American and Egyptian mediation, following Operation Pillar of Defense]

c) Convene in Cairo, at the invitation of Egypt, within 48 hours to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza, including arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees, and address all security issues.

The third part — “c” above — of the proposed ceasefire agreement, which was submitted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, was a particular source of vexation for Israeli leaders, as it basically accepts all of Hamas’s demands but addresses Israeli worries only tangentially. Rather than calling for demilitarization of Gaza or addressing the attack tunnels the group has dug, the proposal merely calls for a general discussion of “all security issues.”

According to the document, Israel would not be forced to withdraw its troops from Gaza during the course of the truce, but would also not be allowed to continue its work destroying any tunnels in the strip. During the ceasefire, “the parties will refrain from conducting any military or security targeting of each other,” the draft states.

The document also mentions that “members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian cease-fire and agreements reached between the parties, in cooperation and coordination with the parties, and will join in a major humanitarian assistance initiative to address the immediate needs of the people of Gaza.”

That segment effectively sidelines Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, which are not mentioned at all. Especially noteworthy is the omission of Egypt, which borders on Gaza and has in the past mediated between Israel and Hamas. Instead, it appears, Kerry has designated Turkey and Qatar to take over this role in the current conflict. Doha and Ankara are Hamas’s staunchest allies in the region, which underlines why Jerusalem rejected the proposal outright.

In acceding to Hamas’s demands, John Kerry is injuring not only an American ally (that would be Israel), but America too, since Hamas is, as I mentioned, an official terrorist group, not to mention a sworn enemy of the West.

Here’s the thing, though: When it comes to John Kerry, we’ve heard this song before. Let me take you back to 1971, when John Kerry testified before Congress about his actions during the Vietnam War:

Mr. KERRY. My feeling, Senator, is undoubtedly this Congress, and I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I do not believe that this Congress will, in fact, end the war as we would like to, which is immediately and unilaterally and, therefore, if I were to speak I would say we would set a date and the date obviously would be the earliest possible date. But I would like to say, in answering that, that I do not believe it is necessary to stall any longer. I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh’s points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned…

The Viet Cong’s demands at the time were for a complete American surrender and the communist takeover of the whole of Vietnam.  (As an aside, that’s what we ended up doing, in part because people like Kerry, whose conduct at that time was illegal and seditious, paved the way.)

Looking at Kerry’s recent disgraceful performance in the Middle East, it’s clear that this is what Kerry does. He sides with murderous totalitarian regimes against his country and her allies. When it comes to Kerry’s embrace of Hamas, he is just acting true to form.

Saturday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesHeading out, so here’s a quick download of interesting stuff:

** 1 **

We missed a solar bullet a couple of years ago. The sun would have done a much better job even than Islamists of knocking the world back to the Stone Age.

** 2 **

It is unbelievable what people can do with plants.

** 3 **

A modern Russian fairy tale about the upside down world in the Middle East.

** 4 **

Even the dictionaries are politically biased.

** 4 **

Fundamentally, no matter the names they give themselves (Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, etc.), they’re one big army, and the enemy is us.

Antisemitic revolution at home

** 5 **

Liberals are funny

claws and paws

The stupidity of Leftist parody when applied to the iron law of economics

Stephen-ColbertMr. Bookworm likes Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I don’t but, because they’re nattering away on my television, I often find myself watching them anyway.

Colbert, who will soon be filling David Letterman’s vacant chair, has a shtick. His shtick is that he’s a conservative, so his humor ostensibly attacks conservatives at their own game.

What makes Colbert’s shtick fundamentally unfunny, though, is that he has no understanding of conservative ideas or, indeed, of anything at all. His starting point is a parody image of conservatives — hate women, hate minorities, love the evil rich, want to kill everybody with guns.  That’s not funny.  It’s just crude.

Then, his alleged humor attempts to build on this parody, looking at headlines through the stained, warped filter of his politic animus.  The result is something without any intrinsic humor. It only makes people laugh if they’re inclined to laugh at any insult directed to their political opponents, no wit or insight required.

My premise for this post, therefore, is that it’s not funny when ill-informed people try to parody something that they’ve already reduced to a parody.  Working off this premise, I want to introduce you to a video and, even better, its rebuttal.

The video came about when Funny or Die partnered with Kristen Bell (who is the voice for the redhead in Frozen) does a Mary Poppins parody supporting a hugely increased minimum wage. The video’s production values are wonderful. Kristen Bell has a lovely voice to begin with and does a very good Julie Andrews imitation. The melody is a nice, subtle homage of “Spoonful of Sugar,” without simply being a retread. Really, the whole thing is great, except….

Except that the premise is insanely stupid. It accepts blindly that, if the government forces employers to pay people above market rate, everyone (except the evil, abusive employers, of course) will have more money.

The video makes no effort whatsoever to rebut the fact that the iron laws of economics work no matter what DemProgs desire.  If the government forces employers to pay their employees more than the market will bear, employers will just hire fewer people. The result will be that a few people will have more money, although they’ll be expected to do more work for that money. Many small businesses may stagnate, rather than grow, shrinking further the employment pool.  Ultimately, instead of having lots of people employed for low wages, you’ll just have lots of unemployed.

You know why the video makes no effort to work through these problems, of course.  It doesn’t try because it can’t.  In a battle between the iron laws economics and witless Progressivism, the former always wins.  That leaves the latter with nothing more than superficial cuteness (a parody) justifying its simplistic economic demands (the parody piled on the parody).

The problem for conservatives, of course, is that their ideas, while inevitable, require some intelligence to explain and understand.  And, because they’re complex, they require a little time and space.  A short rebuttal to a well-produced video is hard to do.  Reason’s Remy, though, has taken a stab at simplifying the rebuttal, and he’s done a pretty fine job:

So, if your Facebook friends start touting Bell’s Poppins, feel free to tag them with Remy’s Bert.

Mid afternoon Friday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe lovely thing about summer is that I get to sleep in a little. I like that.

The less than lovely thing about summer is that I am never alone. More than that, if my family is near me, they want me. Sometimes they want me for irritating reasons, such as asking me to do things they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves (e.g., making themselves lunch); sometimes they want me for necessary things that only I can do (e.g., filling out the parent permission form for an activity or dealing with contractors); and sometimes they want me for flattering reasons (“I just want you to sit with me, Mommy.”). No matter the reason, I can’t write when they want me.

Other times, as is the case now, I have little bits and pieces of time within which to write. I’m therefore going to slam stuff out and you’ll just have to excuse the inevitable typos. If I proceed methodically here, I won’t be able to publish this until Monday.

** 1 **

Mitchell Langbert wrote an open letter to his state Senator asking that New York take away tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement:

I urge New York State to eliminate tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support involvement with the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions movement. Such support is already illegal under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code, which prohibits the use of tax-exempt money for political and ideological purposes.

If Langbert is correct in the way he interprets the law, all of us should make a very big deal out of this one, not just in New York, but across America. (Hat tip: JKB.)

** 2 **

So far, Israel is doing very well. Ironically, one can say that she’s doing well because Obama hates her. With past administrations, when the president asked Israel to stop fighting Hamas, even when she was winning, Israel agreed to the request. She did so because all past administrations tacitly or explicitly promised that, if things get really bad, America will have Israel’s back.

Barack Obama, of course, doesn’t have Israel’s back. He’s mostly in Israel’s face, with a shiv aimed at her jugular. The fact that he manifestly dislikes Israel explains why Israel now refuses to listen to his pleas for her to back down. He’s got no carrot to entice her into listening to him, so Israel sneers at John Kerry when he, a Lurch without charm, insists Israel lay down her guns.

Israel is also doing well because Hamas is doing badly. The IDF put out a poster explaining just how badly Hamas is doing:

Hamas hurting

That poster doesn’t even acknowledge the 150 Hamas fighters who surrendered yesterday.

For more on just how well Israel is doing, you can read an American Thinker article that purports to report a conversation with a very highly placed Israeli specialist and Bibi advisor, or read Tom Rogan’s analysis about Israel’s success is splitting Hamas and Fatah.

** 3 **

That same Israeli specialist and advisor has no doubt about the basis for Obama’s hostility to Israel:

As for what is behind Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, he attributes it to the fact that Obama is a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps Obama also sees himself as the Caliph of any future Caliphate.

The other thing the post about the specialist mentions is Qatar’s involvement in funding radical Islam. Qatar also funds lots of soccer. My son loves soccer, and he can’t understand why I won’t let him buy gear from Qatar-funded teams.

** 4 **

Contrary to what the Left says or implies, the war between Israel and Hamas is not a case of powerful white people attacking helpless brown people. In fact, Israel is a multicultural, multiracial, multi-religious society — and all people of good will within that society, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, support stamping out the terrorism emanating from Gaza.

** 5 **

CNN’s Erin Burnett isn’t just another pretty face. She’s a really stupid pretty face, something that comes through loud and clear when Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador U.S., takes her to task for her inanely stupid “but what about the children” plea when it comes to the Gazan children that Hamas deliberate dots around weapons’ sites in Gaza.

Regarding Hamas’s tactics, I’m sure its supporters have made the point that the nature of Gaza (a small, urban area) means that Hamas can’t have nice military bases or remote areas where they can stockpile weapons. That’s true.

What’s also true, though, is that there are choices other than schools and hospitals for storing arms and mounting attacks. Moreover, when your enemy goes out of the way to give you advance warning that it plans to demolish the schools and hospitals in which they’ve determined you keep your weapons and fighters, there are choices other than ordering women and children and sick people to stay in those buildings.

There are always choices — and Hamas, when it chooses, always makes the least moral choice.

** 6 **

Meanwhile, as the world’s Muslims and Leftists castigate Israel for daring to defend herself in a more humane way than any other nation in history, most of the world is turning away from Muslim atrocities in Iraq and Syria. There, Muslims slaughter each other and Christians with fury and brutality, and in great numbers. Looking at this inconsistent behavior, one has to ask, If it’s not the oldest hatred that drives the obsessive focus on Israel, what is driving it?

** 7 **

Sultan Knish explains that terrorism is a tactic like any other. Traditional militaries think in terms of conquering land or towns. Terrorists think in terms of conquering minds through abject fear:

This emotional calculus is misleading because it is an immediate response to a set of deaths. However terrorists are not trading an end to violence for a village or a town. They are calculating how many deaths it will take to force Israel to abandon that village or town. And once they have it, they will use it to inflict more terror on another town or village, this time using rockets.

Israelis were convinced that a price in lives had been put on Gaza and that if they withdrew, the killing would end. But Gaza was just the beginning. Not the end. There is never an end.

The goal of a terrorist movement is to change the relative perceptions of strength and the freedom of movement of both sides. Terror tactics create the perception that the winning side is losing. This perception can be so compelling that both sides come to accept it as reality. Terrorists manufacture victories by trapping their enemies in no-win scenarios that wear down their morale.

Described that way, it’s hard to imagine how to defeat this profoundly cruel psychological warfare. Fortunately, though, Sultan Knish says it can be done but it will take political courage. Unfortunately, how often does one find courage in politics?

** 8 **

My back garden is dotted with solar lights. They’re cheap to buy and don’t require any electrical boxes, outlets, or cords in the garden. Buy enough of them, and they’ll illuminate deck stairs just enough so that no one falls or will keep people from wandering off a paved pathway into the dirt. It would take a whole let of them, though, plus a full moon, to allow you to read a book by their light. Solar energy just doesn’t deliver that much power, and that’s the problem with trying to turn it into a viable fossil fuel alternative.

** 9 **

You’ve heard it everywhere else, so you may as well hear it from me too: Jonathan Gruber, an important Obama-care architect, has castigated the Halbig decision for daring to read Obamacare’s language literally and, on that basis, deciding that subsidies only support state-run exchanges. Of course the government meant to include federal exchanges when it talked about subsidies, says Gruber.

A few years ago, though, Gruber was singing a different tune, when he gloated about tying subsidies to state exchanges. His theory then was that it would incentivize states to set up their own exchanges. In a sane world, Gruber would lay to rest the DemProg’s discontent with the Halbig decision, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

** 10 **

Kimberly Strassel says that the Halbig case proves that the IRS, which has become an arm of the Democrat party, cannot be entrusted with Obamacare. It will do anything, including disobeying the law as written, to support the Democrat agenda.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t just remove Obamacare from the IRS’s purview.  I would argue for eliminating it entirely, and starting anew.  (Like that’s going to happen.)

** 11 **

I don’t think Noemi Emery really explains the roots of Hillary’s sense of political and monetary entitlement, but in trying to explain it, she sure paints a picture of a women who believes that the White House and millions of dollars should be hers for the asking.

My take is that Hillary didn’t get to this point because of her Arkansas exile or victimized-wife roles. I believe she’s just your ordinary sociopath, who managed to lever herself into a power path, and now wants more just because she’s the sociopath she is.  In other words, her history didn’t make her a sociopath; the fact that she is a sociopath shaped her history.

** 12 **

Charles Krauthammer has offered a very interesting theory about Obama’s bizarre passivity as the world burns around him: he believes that the arc of history will go his way so that he can just sit back and watch it happen.

If that idea — that bad guys will wither away in any event — sounds familiar, it’s because you heard it from Jimmy Carter about our own American Revolution:

[I]n some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.

See, if you’re just a little nicer to people on the other side of a quarrel, they’ll fall in line with you. It’s that easy. So if Obama just doesn’t throw America’s weight around, everyone will make nice in the end.  Obama is helped in this theory by the fact that he seems happy to have that arc of history bend to Islam, not the western, Judeo-Christian tradition.

** 13 **

In the 1930s, many decent-ish people in Europe and England supported Hitler’s rise. That’s because initially they saw his fascism as the European antidote to Communism. It somehow never seemed to occur to Europeans, accustomed as they were to autocratic government, that the choice wasn’t binary, between a tyrannical government that destroyed the rich and a tyrannical government that co-opted them. Individual freedom never occurred to them.  That was stupidity, or at least limited thinking, on their part.

These same Europeans stopped being decent-ish but stupid, and became evil, though, when they still supported the Nazis despite the latter’s increasingly insane antisemitism.  That’s another legacy of the European past — it wasn’t just autocratic; it was also antisemitic. European’s embrace of antisemitism into addition to totalitarianism is less forgivable than accepting totalitarianism alone, while the latter is a structural ideology, the former is pure evil.

Fascism and communism may be gone from Europe, and socialism may be dying on the vine there, but the antisemitism lingers on. That oldest hatred seems to be bred into the European DNA. Nor can one just blame the huge Muslim populations in Europe for antisemitism’s resurgence. Just as the Ukrainians and Poles and French, while resenting Nazi invasions, supported Nazi ethnic cleansing, too many of today’s Europeans, while frightened of the Muslims, cheerfully (and almost reflexively) chime in when the cry to “Kill the Jews” rings out.

** 14 **

Mr. Bookworm is convinced that I abandoned him politically when I moved from Democrat to conservative. I keep explaining to him that he abandoned me too, because he’s been moving steadily to the Left. He denies that, since he still rejoices under the name “Democrat.” Hard data, though, seems to support my perception.

** 15 **

A palette-cleanser:

** 16 **

Hamas priorities

This clever twist on a London Underground map makes a powerful point about Hamas’s tunneling under Israel’s borders and into her towns. If Hamas, instead of being impatient and firing rockets, had waited quietly, it’s possible it could have carried out a terrorist attack in Israel that would easily have rivaled 9/11. Thank goodness, I guess, for impatient terrorists.

Gaza underground

Thursday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. I had a standard-issue medical test done on me this morning and, while I passed with flying colors (I’m such an overachiever), the procedure knocked me off my pins and I’m only now getting back to something akin to normal.

I haven’t yet had the chance to read today’s news (which I think looks sort of like yesterday’s news, right down to yet another air tragedy), but I have a ginormous backlog of links I gathered yesterday that I’d still like to share. So, fasten your seat belts and . . . we’re off!

** 1 **

Just an observation about Israel’s efforts to rout Hamas in Gaza: Many, myself included, think that this is Israel’s moment in Gaza. The ones who are openly supporting her incursion are all Israelis (as opposed to merely some Israelis), most Americans, European heads of state, the EU (!), and citizens of good will the world over. Heck, even the notorious anti-Israel Washington Post has another editorial denouncing Hamas and insisting that it must be disarmed before Israel gives up the fight.

The ones who are tacitly supporting her incursion are heads of state all over the Arab world who, scared by both Iran and ISIS and, as in Egypt’s case, deeply hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, are keeping silent or even castigating Hamas. The only ones who are opposed to Israel having the chance, once and for all, to destroy one of the world’s most malignant terrorist organizations, are Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the hate-ridden Muslim and hard-Left rioters in European and American citizens.

** 2 **

At the end of my conversation with Sol Giggleweed, I added that, in a comparison between Hamas the Nazis, the Nazis are actually better than Hamas insofar as they revered their own women. My sister added another Nazi virtue that Hamas lacked: the Nazis did not use their own women and children as living, breathing defense systems.

Apropros this reverence for life, check out this Facebook post.

Indeed, even canine life comes in for care (in stark contrast to the Muslim world, which hates dogs and, at least in Pakistan, tortures them for fun):

Israelis care for dogs

 

** 3 **

Arabs, Muslims, and Leftists keep agitating for a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Rhymes with Right agrees in principle, but differs somewhat as to precisely which pre-1967 borders Israel should be returned.

** 4 **

I don’t understand why America’s multiculturalists aren’t more up in arms about ISIS’s blatant disrespect for Christian culture in Iraq. (And yes, I’m being very, very, very sarcastic there.)

** 5 **

Yet another article about the U.S. State Department’s absolutely disgraceful failure to bring over to the U.S. the Afghani interpreters who now sit in the Taliban’s cross hairs.

** 6 **

Yes, it’s true. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is planning to move to race-based grading: Teachers are required to add a separate (and impliedly lower) bell curve for grading for non-whites. You’d think things such as this would bring non-whites to the realization that the Left thinks they’re really stupid.

** 7 **

HBO no longer makes any pretense of hiding its hardcore DemProg credentials. Even its obscene, sex-obsessed vampires are DemProgs so, when they get the opportunity, they apparently used an imaginary Ted Cruz fundraising as the opportunity to engage in some foul-mouthed Republican and women bashing. Ted Cruz and his aide Amanda Carpenter, however, elegantly and easily show why mental midgets shouldn’t tangle with people infinitely smarter than they are.

** 8 **

You know what happens to a socialized manufacturing sector? Nothing. It doesn’t innovate, grow, or create wealth. Instead, as Venezuela has demonstrated for the umpteenth time, socialized manufacturing sectors collapse very badly. (Article is behind a Wall Street Journal pay wall.)

** 9 **

Should you be able to get behind that Wall Street Journal pay wall, you should also read Daniel Henninger’s scathing denunciation of a president who is just too bored, busy, and important to deal with the crises popping up all over the place. He’s not even trying to play crisis whack-a-mole. He’s just walking away and looking for the next fundraising party.

If you can’t get behind that pay wall, you can still read Mark Steyn on Obama’s vanishing act, played across the backdrop of the endless rewind and replay in the Middle East.

** 10 **

Britain is mad at Russia because of the fact that pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine, armed with cutting edge Russian weapons, shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Of the almost 300 people who died, many were British subjects. Britain is so mad, in fact, that it’s reviving the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Putin critic who died very painfully in England from polonium poisoning.

** 11 **

One of my tawdry media indulgences is the Daily Mail, which is a combination of sleaze, trash, eccentric wonders, and actual cutting-edge news from all over the world. One of the things I’ve noticed lately in the Daily Mail is the number of young to middle-aged bankers who have been killing themselves or dying of mysterious circumstances. Zero Hedge has noticed too and obviously wondered whether it’s just a coincidence that we’re aware of because of world wide reporting or if something really weird is going on.

** 12 **

Planned Parenthood continues to teach Americans young women about sexual perversion. Says Ed Morrissey:

Planned Parenthood gets millions of dollars for sex education and other programs from the federal government, and the education they provide is exactly what those parents predicted. No 15-year-old needs instruction on how to let herself get handcuffed or tied to trees by her boyfriend as part of rational education about health and sex. If a 15-year-old even hinted that her boyfriend was pressing her to try these kinds of activities, that calls for an intervention, not a how-to for submission. The advice to watch pornos for further sex education threatens to distort the teen’s sexuality for a lifetime, from a healthy expression of love and pleasure in the context of marriage to decades of being someone else’s rag doll for exploitation.

This isn’t education. It’s indoctrination, and the cultivation of Planned Parenthood clients for the next 20 years. Planned Parenthood can continue to offer sex education, but it shouldn’t get tax dollars to do so.

** 13 **

Jonathan Turley, a Barack Obama voter and law professor, has made a name for himself of late by speaking out against the expanding administrative state. He sees the D.C. Circuit’s Halbig decision, which confines Obamacare subsidies to state-established exchanges per the laws explicit language, as a very important one and contrasts it favorably against the 4th Circuits King decision, which ignored the statute’s explicit, unambiguous language in favor of a “well, I think the legislature really wanted to do this” analysis:

At the heart of the conflict is a fundamentally different view of the role not just of federal courts but also of federal agencies. I have long been a critic of the rise of a type of fourth branch within our system. The Framers created a tripartite system based on three equal branches. The interrelation of the branches guarantees that no branch could govern alone and protects individual liberty by from the concentration of power in any one branch.

We now have a massive system of 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies with almost three million employees. Citizens today are ten times more likely to be the subject of an agency court ruling than a federal court ruling. The vast majority of “laws” in this country are actually regulations promulgated by agencies, which tend to be practically insulated and removed from most citizens.

** 14 **

The government is still doing a fancy dance around Obamacare. Separate from the fact that the administrative branch went all legislative and re-wrote the statute to suit the Democrats’ political purposes, the fact remains that the Exchange’s only measurable success is getting people onto the exchange. Everything else . . . well, not so good.

** 15 **

Hundreds of California taxpayers and professors are upset about the fact that San Francisco State University used taxpayer funds for terrorist outreach. I agree with their anger. I’m only sorry that we don’t live in a country that actually supports the rule of law. Since Hamas is a designated terrorist organization, in a law-abiding country, the federal government would have come down on SFSU and the errand faculty like a ton of federal bricks.

** 16 **

Back in the 1930s, the primary difference between Soviet Communism and German and Italian fascism was that the former nationalized businesses while the latter allowed them to exist (and profit), provided that they subordinated themselves to the government agenda. Jonah Goldberg, in talking about Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to subordinate American business to the federal government DemProg agenda, never mentions 1930s era fascism, but I couldn’t help noticing the structural similarities.

** 17 **

And while we’re speaking of that cozy relationship between business and DemProgs, here’s more on the federal government’s policy of privatizing corporate profits (if they make a profit overseas, they keep it) and socializing their losses (if they lose money, taxpayers suck up the loss).  You don’t need to look overseas, of course.  Obamacare is one big gift to the insurance industry.  That makes it something everyone can hate:  conservatives hate it because it brings health care under federal government control and socializes costs; Leftists hate it because these socialized costs are all funneled into the insurance company’s pockets.

** 18 **

There’s an old saying that, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. When it comes to the Obama White House and its efforts to hide all of its agents’ emails, mails, documents, texts, etc., there’s a new old saying:  Where there’s neither smoke nor fire, there’s a cover-up. The most recent one involves Shirley Sherrod.

** 19 **

Trey Gowdy continues to be IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s worst nightmare:

Gowdy must have been one hotshot trial lawyer.

** 20 **

Andrew Klavan takes a satirical look at one of the real security concerns flowing from the Obama-manufactured border (border? what border?) crisis:

** 21 **

Moral high ground

How Iron Dome works

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Taking cover in a war zone

Carpenter Ants

Ask what you can do for your mother

Watcher’s Council nominations for July 24, 2014

Watcher's Council logoThe Watcher’s Council is voting today. These are the nominations before them. As always, it’s very, very touch to choose:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Wednesday afternoon round-up — the Israel edition

Israeli flagI have so many stories on Israel lined up that I’m dedicating this entire open thread to Israel issues. Here goes:

** 1 **

The mainstream media is catching on to the fact that one of the things that’s different about this war is that Israel, instead of the usual approach to war — having tight-lipped military spokesman make inscrutable pronouncements on behalf of the IDF, even as Hamas hogs the air with carefully staged dead bodies and well-coached wailing women — is finally using social media to drive its point home. (Apologies if there’s a pay wall in the way of that article.) The war will not be won on social media; it must be won on the ground. As Israel knows to her cost, though, she can lose the war if she does not garner sufficient world support.

** 2 **

Another thing that the media — in this case, the BBC — is realizing is different about this war is that Israel is united behind it. There’s no left-wing or right-wing. By striking at Israel’s heart, Hamas managed to bring all Israelis together in a common goal, namely destroying Hamas.

** 3 **

If videos are anything to go by, Israel’s young men, the ones who are marching into the booby-trapped rabbit warren of Hamas, are both embracing life and embracing the cause they fight. May God walk with each one of them:

I am reminded of Joshua and the Israelites outside the walls of Jericho.

** 4 **

Before this war, I’d never head the phrase “lone soldier,” although the concept is not new to me. A lone soldier is a person who does not live in Israel, but who travels to Israel to volunteer in her military as she fights for survival. Indeed, I knew an American who, in 1973, traveled to Israel and ended up being in one of the first tanks in the Golan. Nice guy and a very decent human being.

Currently almost 2,000 lone soldiers are serving in the IDF.

The fact that they are not Israelis has not kept these lone soldiers out of the fight. The grandson of Rite Aid’s founder was wounded, although thankfully this brave young man, who walked away from extraordinary riches into great danger, will recover. Sadly, neither Los Angeles native Max Steinberg, 24, and Texan Sean Carmeli, 21, will ever return home.

To die far away from home is a terrible thing, especially for the family and other loved ones left behind. The Israelis, fully cognizant of this tragedy, as well as grateful for the gift of people who donate their bravery, skills, energy, and heart to Israel, have hastened to repay the favor that Steinberg and Carmeli did for them:

With no family members nearby, there were concerns that the lone soldiers’ funerals wouldn’t be well attended, according to the Times of Israel. But 20,000 Israelis came to Carmeli’s funeral on Monday, and 30,000 attended Steinberg’s funeral Wednesday.

Breitbart notes that the large attendance is especially remarkable considering that the constant threat of rocket attacks on Israel makes traveling and gathering in large crowds very risky.

There is something about dying with honor that is just incredibly heart-wrenching. I’m leaking tears all over my keyboard here.

** 5 **

Hamas’s ability to penetrate Iron Dome and land a missile near Lod Airport is a terrible thing. Aside from being a war crime to target a civilian airport, it gave Obama an opportunity, more than two weeks after missiles flew into Israel non-stop, to deal Israel a telling blow: cutting off air-travel to a small nation surrounded by hostile countries.

Nevertheless, John Podhoretz says that, while this was a signal success for Hamas, there are pitfalls for it too:

Yet, while the action might have worked tactically, the targeting of Ben Gurion Airport may prove a strategic calamity for Hamas.

The fact that it was preceded by the shootdown of Flight 17 may have enhanced the terror effect inside Israel, but it also suggests a danger the international community (even the large part of it deeply hostile to Israel’s existence) must reckon with.

If Hamas is rewarded now (with a cease-fire on terms acceptable to it) for having threatened air traffic, the terrorist playbook around the world will have a new and terrifyingly low-cost go-to entry.

** 6 **

I haven’t been nice about Mayor Michael Bloomberg when it comes to soda and guns. I still disagree with him on those things, but he’s earned great admiration from me for ignoring Obama’s and Kerry’s boycott of Lod Airport and for publicly, and boldly, flying there.

** 7 **

Of course, the cost to the whole world of caving to Hamas now won’t deter Obama. Obama’s goal, his primary, overarching goal, is to end the fighting to Israel’s disadvantage. So in addition to rewarding an attack on a civilian airport he is demanding a cease-fire just as Israel begins to get some momentum.

** 8 **

The attack on Lod also ends all pretense of a two-state solution, says Alan Dershowitz (a DemProg who is a wonderful lion in Israel’s defense):

Hamas’ actions in essentially closing down international air traffic into Israel, considerably reduces the prospect of any two-state solution. Israel will now be more reluctant than ever to give up military control over the West Bank, which is even closer to Ben Gurion Airport than is Gaza.

Were Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank—as distinguished from its civilian settlements deep in the West Bank—it would risk the possibility of a Hamas takeover. That is precisely what happened when Israel removed both its civilian settlements and its military presence in Gaza. Hamas took control, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian targets and have now succeeded in stopping international air traffic into and out of Israel.

** 9 **

While the Germans have been watching the far Right, they ought to have been watching the far Left. That’s because the far Left has joined forces with German Muslims to demand that Jews be gassed. I’d like to think that ordinary Germans, who have been taught for decades that gassing Jews is a bad thing, will not let this go unaddressed.

** 10 **

Compare and contrast: Even as Hamas bombs her cities, tunnels under her homes, and kills her troops, Israel sends Hamas aid in the form of medicines and foods for civilians (or, as Hamas calls them, “future dead bodies for photo ops”). Meanwhile, even as Hamas bombs Israel’s cities, tunnels under her homes, and kills her troops, Barack Obama sends billions of dollars in hard cash to Hamas’s corrupt leadership.

** 11 **

In 2011, Hamas terrorists entered the Fogel home in Israel and murdered a family of five — mother father, an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 3-month-old. Just to to make very sure their message was clear, the terrorists decapitated the baby.

Hamas has now published photographs of the Fogel family massacre and claimed that they are recent pictures showing an Israeli massacre against a Gaza family. (Be aware that the image is graphic and deeply disturbing.) This is, quite possibly, the most revolting act of propaganda Hamas has ever committed.

** 12 **

David Goldman argues (correctly) that if Israel doesn’t finish the job now against Hamas, things will only get worse. Iron Dome will not be able to protect Lod Airport, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv once Hamas gets precision guided missiles.

The stars are also aligned now: The other Arab and Muslim nations are making no effort to back Hamas. You’ve no doubt noticed that the anti-Israel rallies have been in Paris, London, Germany, and Boston, not Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

Moreover, the Israeli population finally seems to have accepted that, if your enemy says “Kill my child or I’ll kill two or three or all of your children,” then you kill your enemy’s child. There is nothing else one can do. Indeed, I would argue that destroying an enemy that uses its own children as cannon fodder is the kindest thing you can do for those children in the long run.

** 13 **

Israel never forgets, though, how high the cost is to fight a soul-less enemy.  In a small country that values each individual life (as opposed to seeing people as submissive, amorphous blob to be used as the tyrants in power wish), every death is personal. Every person is a father, uncle, son, brother, boyfriend, and friend.

David Lapin

** 14 **

I don’t know if it’s possible for my hatred for the UN to increase. Is there a ceiling on deep, wide, fervent hatred for an utterly corrupt organization that, although funded primarily by America, in fact serves as an outlet for every tin-pot anti-Semitic, anti-American regime in the world? Is there a limit on contempt, disdain, and disgust for a multi-tentacled behemoth that abuses children all over the world, including Palestinian children, into whose schools the UN places weapons that are not only dangerous in and of themselves, but that also make the schools a military target? No, really, I don’t think there is a limit.

Next question:   Will the U.S. finally, finally step in and use its economic heft against the UN?  Sadly, if it hasn’t so far, I doubt it will now.  So much for “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

** 15 **

I believe that, to the extent Palestinian citizens voted for and support Hamas, knowing that its primary tactics are (a) to hide weapons amongst civilians, especially children, and (b) to then use the resultant dead civilians as a propaganda weapon, are themselves combatants. However, not everyone voted for Hamas, and many who voted may regret their vote. Even inside the Palestinian territories there are people who support Israel.

Those freedom-loving Arabs who live in Israel are fortunate in that they don’t have to hide their sympathies. Still, it’s dangerous to be an Israel-loving Arab in any part of the world, so I can only applaud the 17-year-old Israeli Arab who speaks out so bravely in Israel’s defense.

** 16 **

Howard Stern loses his temper with an anti-Israel caller and unloads about the difference between Israel and the Palestinians. (It’s Howard Stern, so language alert.)

** 17 **

Hamas new missile defense system

Watcher’s Council Winners for July 18, 2014

Watcher's Council logoI didn’t forget to post last week’s Watcher’s Council winners.  I just got distracted.  But it’s wrong of me to deprive you of very useful information, not to mention a second chance to revisit these marvelous articles.  Also, don’t forget to check out the forum, which discusses potential technological breakthroughs in coming years.

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Sol Giggleweed tries to weigh in on Jon Stewart’s pro-Israel bona fides — and fails spectacularly

Palestinians-Sieg-Heil--620x311Two weeks ago, I introduced you to Sol Giggleweed, a representative of DemProg passion in politics and society. I chanced to meet up with Sol today — or, more accurately, with a real human being whose views march in lockstep with Sol’s, but who doesn’t wish to have his name made public.  He’ll therefore be Sol Giggleweed in perpetuity at this blog. The topic of our very real conversation this morning was Jon Stewart and Hamas.

The conversation Sol and I had was a continuation of an earlier Jon Stewart-inspired discussion we had. It all began last week, when Jon Stewart decided to weigh in on the Israel=Hamas conflict. Stewart’s shtick was the usual “disproportionate force” argument that comes from the anti-Israel crowd: He essentially said that Israel’s warnings to civilians in advance of an attack were a fraud, since the Gazans had nowhere to run in their crowded rabbit warren of a city. Poor Gazans.

I explained a few things to Sol:   (a) Hamas routinely instructs civilians to stay in place in order to create more propaganda moments, which is the major weapon in Hamas’s arsenal; (b) Israel’s citizens had survived more than a thousand rockets in the past two weeks because Israel specifically created an infrastructure to protect them, something Hamas purposely did not do; and (c) contrary to Stewart’s implication about a lack of shelters, Gaza is riddled with perfectly good tunnels that are barred to civilians because the tunnels are for the gun-carriers, not the future telegenic dead bodies.

Sol was unimpressed.  When all was said and done, Sol’s primary argument boiled down to this: Jon Stewart is brilliant, so I believe him, not you, and certainly not the mountains of IDF evidence (videos, photographs, military images, Hamas’s own words, etc.) to the contrary.  There’s got to be some equivalency and nuance there.

I’d forgotten about that conversation, but today Sol contacted me, chortling gleefully about the fact that Jon Stewart, “showed them.”

I not unreasonably inquired, “Jon Stewart showed what to whom?”

“He showed the conservatives like you, the ones that think the IDF is the only voice to listen to. He showed them that they’re wrong.”

Sol then told me to check out this video footage, only the first couple of minutes of which are relevant:

“See,” said Sol. “See, Jon Stewart knows what you guys are saying. He’s aware of you.”

“Yeah, Sol, I see. But what’s your argument?”

“Jon Stewart,” he replied, “is showing that there’s nuance there. Because both sides are mad at him, he’s subtly telling the audience that it’s not clear-cut. Both sides have valid arguments.”

“So you’re saying that there’s an equivalence between Israel, the only free, democratic, pluralist society in the Middle East, and Hamas, an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-American, anti-Christian entity that’s so bad even Egypt hates it?  And that this equivalence exists because both sides are willing to argue their cause against anyone who isn’t clearly siding with them?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. After all, I emailed you that Wall Street Journal article about Hamas tactics. But there are other views than just the one the IDF says. You’re so judgmental and narrow-minded that you won’t listen to anything at all. If it doesn’t come from your right-wing blogosphere, you just dismiss it.  Jon Stewart listens to everything and he’s subtle, not dogmatic.”

Being a closed-minded right-wing wacko, I felt free to ignore Sol’s premise about my closed-mindedness.

“Sol, in many cases, there are nuances and sides. But in some cases, there’s just pure evil and you are complicit with evil if you do not reject them entirely. For example, would you argue that, in the fight between the Allies and the Nazis, there was nuance?”

Sol bridled. “Don’t be stupid. Hamas isn’t the Nazis.”

“Okay, tell me one thing that makes Hamas different from the Nazis.”

“Are you kidding?” Sol smirked. “You want me to compare Hamas to the Nazis?”

“I’m not kidding,” I answered. “I want you to tell me how Hamas is different from the Nazis.”

“Really, you want me to tell you how Hamas is different from the Nazis?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking you to do. And I’ve got to take something off the stove top, so you can think about it while I’m doing that. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

Five minutes later, I announced, “I’m back. Now you can tell me what’s different between Hamas and the Nazis.”

“This is stupid. You can write pages about things that are different between Hamas and the Nazis,” a now very ruffled Sol told me.

“I’m not asking for pages. Just tell me one thing.”

“Really? Really! You really want me to tell you one thing that’s different between Hamas and the Nazis?”

“Yeah. And let me clarify. It can’t be something like ‘The Nazis were Germans and Hamas is Arab.’ Or ‘Hamas is Muslim and the Nazis weren’t.’ Or ‘Hamas isn’t engaged in a world war’ (although it would certainly like to be). You have to tell me about one thing that differs in the basic values between those two organizations.”

“That’s easy,” Sol finally replied. “Hamas doesn’t have concentration camps and it didn’t start a world war.”

“Not tactics,” Sol, I sighed. “I was talking about values. You know, principles, like anti-Semitism or homophobia or genocidal desires or the lust for world domination. Things like that.”

Sol snapped, “This conversation is stupid.  Jon Stewart is brilliant and you’re just being dogmatic.” And then he hung up on me.

It was only after our little talk had ended that I realized that there was one difference between Hamas and the Nazis, and that it didn’t reflect well on Hamas: the Nazis revered their women.

Let me say again what I tried to impress upon Sol Giggleweed, a smart man who is so in thrall to moral relativism that he has lost his moral compass: While there are many disputes in which both sides are roughly equal, not necessarily on the battlefield, but at the ideological level (e.g., the equally evil sides in Syria), there are some circumstances in which one side is irredeemably and completely evil, while the other is not. In that battle, we should support the less evil side, even if it is only marginally less evil.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Israel.  That is, we don’t have to choose between evil and somewhat less evil.  Israel, unlike all other nations in history, is struggling to fight an existential war with a moral standard so exquisite it runs the risk of being self-defeating.

It’s easy to support Israel.  All people of true good will should recognize that, in the fight between, on the one hand, an entity that has less going for it even than the Nazis and, on the other hand, a nation that is incomparable in the care it brings to protecting non-combatants (indeed, it cares much more than the U.S. and Barack “I choose who dies” Obama), there is no room for nuance or relativism. Israel wins hands down, and anyone who takes a contrary position is a moron and a moral midget.